I consider myself to be a confident person, but I still have a commitment to being courageous because when it comes down to it, I enjoy my comfort.
I know that I have to put myself out there and challenge myself to grow both personally and professionally.
I have to push past that inner voice in my head that keeps me small.
I have to work through the possible judgement and criticism that might arise from others.
I have to overcome my desire to be perfect and be okay with good enough.
One thing that helps me with my confidence comes from the work of Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard.
Research has already shown that our feelings and thoughts can affect our bodies, but Cuddy wanted to test the reverse...can how we hold our bodies affect our feelings and thoughts?
She discovered that yes, it can.
Cuddy started her research in a lab, where she had the participants take a saliva swab and then hold one of two types of body positions, what she calls a high power pose, or a low power pose (see photo below), for a total of 2 minutes. Afterwards, she took a second saliva swab.
What she found was pretty amazing.
Those who held a high power pose for just 2 minutes, had a 20% increase in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels, meaning more confidence and less stress. Pretty cool, huh?
And the reverse was true for those who held the low power pose. More stress and less power.
When the lab results supported her hypothesis, she took this into a more of a “real world” lab.
This time, she had the study participants hold one of the two types of poses before they completed a high stakes evaluative situation--a 2 minute speech as part of a job interview.
There were no saliva tests this time, but the judges or coders of the speeches showed a clear preference for those “candidates” who held the high power pose. They were more eloquent, had more presence, spoke with more clarity and confidence, and had a higher overall rating for hireability.
So, what does this mean for you?
- It means that there is a direct relationship between how you carry yourself and how you feel. Body language and body positioning matters.
- The more open and expansive your body posture, the more confident and powerful you will feel (and the less stressed and anxious.)
- The more closed up and contracted your body posture, the more stressed and anxious and the less confidence you will feel.
- You can focus on this positioning through your day, or you can specifically focus on this type of posture before you have an evaluative social situation (party, presentation, interview, etc.) It's up to you.
It only takes 2 minutes to shift your feelings of confidence, power, and stress.
Do you have 2 minutes?
Want more from Amy Cuddy? Check out her TedTalk or her new book, Presence.